Study Shows Exercise Can Be Just as Effective as Medication When Treating Major Depression

I recently read about a study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine. The study was done at Duke University by Dr. James Blumenthal, a professor of medical psychology.

Dr. Blumenthal conducted an experiment looking at the impact of exercise on depression. The study included over 150 men and women with major depression. Over a four month period the participants were divided equally into three groups.

– One group exercised

– One took anti-depressants

– And one did both

All the groups showed some improvement, but the rate of recovery for the group that did exercise alone and the group that took anti-depressants was unbelievably comparable.

This finding is a huge benefit to people who suffer from this debilitating affliction. And the great follow up was that after 10-months, those in the exercise group had the lowest relapse rate.

Although even small amounts of exercise – such as 50 minutes per week – had an effect, participants who engaged in the most intensive exercise had the largest improvements both in physical fitness and mental state.

After demonstrating that 30 minutes of brisk exercise three times a week is just as effective as Medication therapy in relieving the symptoms of major depression in the short term, medical center researchers have now shown that continued exercise greatly reduces the chances of the depression returning.

Last year, the Duke researchers reported on their study of 156 older patients diagnosed with major depression. To their surprise, they found that after 16 weeks, patients who exercised showed statistically significant and comparable improvement relative to those who took anti-depression medication, or those who took the medication and exercised.

This article seemed particularly appropriate to send to you during the holidays. Unfortunately, at this time of year many people can get themselves into a bad mindset. The winter doldrums, loneliness and the overall season sometimes does not bring out the best in people.

While there are many people who suffer from clinical depression who need to be on medication, it is great to see that someday there may be a way to find a great substitution between exercise and pills or powders.

Until that time, whether you suffer from the disease or you just find yourself in a rut… know that there are doctors and researchers out there who are proving that if you get yourself moving, you can not only get your physical body more healthy but that your mind, mood and mental state can reap huge benefits from physical activity as well.